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Guest wayfarer2k

The Cost?

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I don't know if it comes from our human evolution or from the dualism that pervades a great deal of the Bible, but many Christians seem to "need" enemies.

 

Oh my, that's soooo true! Dare I say, especially in the more conservative Christian circles. It comes from a rigidity about their beliefs....that only certain "beliefs" are acceptable to God and all of the rest is blasphemy. The Mormons and JW's get the brunt of their scorn, and of course liberal Christians are high on their list, as well.

 

So, you read Walter Martin's "Kingdom of the Cults", eh? :) Wow. That's some pretty heavy "anti" material, and really, mostly very exaggerated or flatly not true. I have met Martin's daughter online. She runs a website called Walter Martin Ministries and she has carried on his work, in "ministering" to the "cults". I have even posted on that website, in year's past. Most of the discussions are very unfriendly (putting it mildly).

 

I didn't realize it then, but while, yes, stuff like Jonestown occassionally happens, most of these kinds of apologetics, IMO, foster fear. They seek to divide, not only Christianity, but humanity into "us versus them" categories. And when we do that, it doesn't take long for us to persecute (or worse) "them" because they are a threat to "us."

 

Exactly. These so-called ministries preach fear of hell and damnation, where they believe most of us are going, if we don't fit their narrow view/definition of a Christian.

 

To me, the only thing that can effectively break down these barriers is love. As the book says, "Perfect love casts out all fear." God has pretty much convinced me that he/she loves me perfectly, so I no longer have to fear that all of my theology isn't correct. God is much bigger than my own thoughts or interpretations of theology. How I wish churches would realize this.

 

Yes, so do I. What freedom...and what unity could be possible, if we didn't try to pack God into such a small box.

 

I agree that God is perfect love and so much bigger than most of us can really comprehend. And he/she/it does love us all, even in our grossest imperfections...unconditionally.

 

I suspects he loves all of them equally. Therefore, as a Progressive Christian, I tend to think that the cost so-to-speak to this movement is not that of building more walls, but in taking them down. And many of our churches will not allow this. For now. But then, they said the Berlin Wall would never come down also, didn't they?

 

Amen. Anything is possible.

Edited by Marsha

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I don't know if it comes from our human evolution or from the dualism that pervades a great deal of the Bible, but many Christians seem to "need" enemies.

Bill,

 

I don't think this need for enemies is derived from the Bible. An 'us-versus-them' mentality is characteristic of a conservative worldview and gets read into the Bible (an anthology in which there is something for everyone). This worldview is not restricted to certain Christians, it is present in other religions as well as secularists (see Mao's China).

 

I think there is an evolutionary basis for this dualism. Our intuitive and finely tuned ability to notice even small differences in speech, physical appearance, etc. suggest to me a genetic basis. At one time -- and maybe now to some degree -- the survival of the tribe depended on the ability to distinguish friend from foe.

 

But, we also have the capacity for a more tolerant, universalist attitude. This can also be found in selected passages in the Bible (so, we don't need to take their Bibles away from them).

 

George

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I agree that the 'us-vs-them' mentally seems to rear up whenever a group perceives a threat to the status quo. Look at the outcry "The DaVinci Code" caused, all because Dan Brown had the temerity to write a book of fiction saying that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had at least one child. Sheesh. :P

 

On the other hand, I was a member of a downtwon Catholic congregation in a medium sized city. Within a 6 block area, there was also a Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, and and Episcopalian (sp?) church. Every year we held a common service on Ascension. We celebrated our differences and our commonalities. In fact, these churches formed an association that helps to feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, give counseling to those in need. The congregations of these churches truly practices what Jesus exemplified when he forgave the Samaritan woman at the well.

 

A final word on the "cost". Sometimes, the cost is expected - as in times of persecution. Sometimes, IMO, the cost is personal. It may be giving up personal wealth to help the poor or letting go of the "us-v-them" mentality to be more inclusive, or giving up personal time to visit the sick and shut-ins. I think, when I am in private meditation/prayer/contemplation, I can and should discern what the cost is for me.

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I agree that the 'us-vs-them' mentally seems to rear up whenever a group perceives a threat to the status quo. Look at the outcry "The DaVinci Code" caused, all because Dan Brown had the temerity to write a book of fiction saying that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had at least one child. Sheesh. :P

 

I agree that Dan Brown controversies got overblown, but he did a little more than just suggest there was a child. His depiction of the Roman Catholic Church was... iffy.

 

On the other hand, I was a member of a downtwon Catholic congregation in a medium sized city. Within a 6 block area, there was also a Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, and and Episcopalian (sp?) church. Every year we held a common service on Ascension. We celebrated our differences and our commonalities. In fact, these churches formed an association that helps to feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, give counseling to those in need. The congregations of these churches truly practices what Jesus exemplified when he forgave the Samaritan woman at the well.

 

This is a great point. Inclusion cannot be equated to common ground, nor should exclusion be equated to difference.

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I recommend The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

 

The cost should be our lives, literally. Not what we believe we should be fighting for, but the walk with Jesus that we're expected to and fail. What He asks us it to suffer. That means opening yourself to everyone else's pain until you have nothing of yourself left in side. Then, when you're empty, He will fill you like the living water that He is.

 

Anything less is failure. Thank God that God doesn't give up on us for that. And if God doesn't give up on us, then why should we give up on God?

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Deitrich Bonhoffer is, for me, the standard bearer of the modern era of the willingness to sacrifice in matrytdom even his life for Christ. He stood against the tide within his own church, among his own countrymen, even his peers and friends, when he recognized the face of evil engulfing all that he knew and loved. How few there were that dared stand with him.

Jenell

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As much as I admire him, I still don't think Bonhoeffer was a martyr. His opposition to Hitler's regime was true, but his decision to act on it through assassination was still sinful, as he himself admitted. So, he is not really a martyr in the true sense of the word. His ideas are still valid in reminding Christians how they should act.

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Had Bonhoeffer been participating under the operation of or incooperation with an Allied mission to assassinate Hilter, would have sill been a sin, just the same?

Some in Germany participated in assassinating German soldiers and police officers, in their attempts to protect and save some of the fugitive "undesirables" being rounded up for extermination. Were those actions sin?

 

Jenell

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